Midori: Santina

Midori, well known for their Traveler’s notebook, has the seemingly discontinued but awesome notebook colection, The Santina / World Mesiter notebook. The notebook “celebrates the best of Japanese and Dutch design and craftmanship” with the cover made of Dutch “leather paper,” named Santina. And the paper is the much-famous Japanese MD paper. This series only comes in an A6 size, and makes for a great pocket notebook.

Midori Santina

The notebook is able to lay completely flat, with only slight pressure when first using the notebook. Inside, is a 5mm grid on the lovely Japanese MD paper.

 

Midori Santina

This notebook line features a gilt-edge, with the color matching the cover. The book block is flush with the cover, creating a monolithic look.

Midori Santina

Specifications:

  • A6
  • Grid
  • Softcover
  • Black gilt-edged
  • 192 pages

Where to buy:

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Review: Choosing Keeping Notebook

Choosing Keeping is a stationary store located in London, with a well-stocked online shop with familiar and unique notebook offerings. And such beautiful product photos! They also create their own line great line of notebooks.

Choosing Keeping
Choosing Keeping

These two featured here are the Blue and Black Spanish Ripple Marbled and Black Hand Decorated notebooks. The cover is a stiff but thin cardboard, I would put in the softcover category. Textured vinyl tape is wrapped around the spine. It reminds me of the tape on the spine of composition notebooks.

Choosing Keeping

The paper is smooth, and advertised as fountain pen friendly, which is important to a lot of notebook and stationary lovers. I, however, use pigment pens. The paper is lined, with wider ruling (7.5mm).

Choosing Keeping

Above is the comparison of the two notebooks with an A5 Moleskine. This notebook line has black gilt edged, which I have a particular penchant for in the notebooks I pursue. The appeal for me is creating the look of a monolith (if the notebook cover is black). Gilt edged notebooks have a bit of aesthetic flair without adding some unnecessary function.

Choosing Keeping

Specifications:

  • 160 pages
  • 7.5mm line spacing
  • Fountain pen friendly

Where to buy:

Review: Delfonic’s Chentelham

This notebook is made by Delfonics, of the Rollbahn notebook. This notebook is perfect for me, as I love the beautiful Delfonic’s Rollbahn paper and design, but I’m put off by spiral-bound notebooks. There’s something uncomfortable for me about the wire spirals tangling up like braces.

Delfonics

The cover is this stiff textured vinyl that is somewhere between a softcover or hardcover. The whole notebook can bend in your hand, but you can’t wrap the front cover around to the back with ease. The Chentelham comes in a variety of color (red, green, navy, blue, and black), but mine is black with a brown elastic closure. I find the black and brown doesn’t clash.

Delfonics

The paper is the beautiful Japanese Delfonics paper, with faint grid lines. You’ll recognize this paper used in Delfonics more recognized Rollbahn notebook line. It is a pleasure to write on.

Delfonics

The notebook comes with a minimal plastic pocket in the back cover.

Delfonics

And the comparison with a (well-worn) A5 Moleskine

Delfonics Delfonics

Specifications:

  • 5mm grid line spacing
  • 192 pages

Where to buy:

Review: Handle Note 01 Grey & Brass

Handle is a new notebook company, and I had been waiting in anticipation for these to be released. The price point is somewhat steep (€25.00 + €7.50 for shipping). Currently they have a 20% off coupon (NOTE01LAUNCH), so my total was about $30.95. While on the higher end for notebook costs, I think it’s worth it. This notebook is my favorite, my new #1, and the next I’ll be using.

The notebook comes in a sweet box, much like Baron Fig products. It served its purpose, and protected my notebook in the post.

Handle Note01

The cover is advertised as gray leather. I’m unsure if that means genuine leather, bonded leather, etc. Nonetheless, It’s beautiful.

Handle Note01

The back cover has “Handle” embossed on the bottom.

Handle Note01

The notebook has gray leather cover, with brass gilt-edging. I find the color combination very pleasing. I have a thing for gilt-edge notebooks. You can see the Handle Note 01 above a Moleskine notebook (for reference)

Handle Note01

The promo pictures on the Handleware website include no pictures of inside the notebook and the paper. So I was in for a surprise. And it was a pleasant one! The paper feels a lot like Moleskine paper, but slightly thicker. They don’t specify anything about the paper, so I can’t say what the weight is. The line spacings are 6mm, and bronze.

Handle Note01

The biggest pleasant surprise was the amount of stitchings per signature: 20 stitchings! Basically, the more stitchings the sturdier the notebook. To see how many stitchings a (smyth-sewn) notebook has, open to the middle of any signature, and count the number of holes, which is where the thread goes through. Most notebooks have about 4-10 stitchings. (a Moleskine has 10 stitchings). My current Nanami Seven Seas Writer has 8.

In the below picture you can see the plentiful stitchings, the bronze lines. You can also see that when the notebook lays open in the middle, the leather bunches together and creates a little divot. That is my only complaint, and very minor.

Handle Note01

Specifications

  • 200 pages
  • lined
  • 6mm lines
  • gilt edge

Where to buy:

Review: Labrador Paper Notebook Triangle

The Notebook Triangle is made by Labrador Paper, based in Thailand. I was attracted to this notebook for the unique design of the cut corners. I love the aesthetic and the way it looks. This notebook is one of my favorite designs.

Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

The notebook is bare cardboard dyed a camel color, with a vinyl spine. The elastic band is a quality rubber band. I’m careful with my notebooks, but I do worry about the long-term durability of the cardboard cover. The company’s philosophy of sustainable and ecological design is embodied in the materials: bare cardboard, rubber band and green read paper. And they execute it really well.

I love the unique design of the notebook, the cut corners, and the asymmetrical elastic closure. However, since the elastic closure is also asymmetrical and doesn’t press evenly on the cover, as you can see, the cover stays somewhat lifted at the bottom. After keeping the notebook on my bookshelf tightly pressed between books on a full shelf, it went away.

Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

The paper is billed as Green Read Paper, which is designed to reduce light reflection hitting the paper, and this reduces strain on the eyes. The paper has some slight texture to the touch. Writing on the paper is nice, however. The description states the notebook will lay completely flat, which I did not find. The binding is pretty tight, but perhaps over time the binding will loosen up and lay flat.

Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

There’s a small pocket in both the front and back cover. Included in the back pocket is a set of colored cardboard bookmark tabs.

Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

I don’t think I’ll be using these bookmark tabs, but I they’re pretty cool.

Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

The Notebook Triangle below an A5 Moleskine Notebook for reference.
Triangle Notebook Labrador Paper

Specifications

  • A5
  • 144 pages
  • 8mm lines

Where to Buy:

  • Homu Store (if located in Southeast Asia)
  • Stickerrific (if located in US. They were so helpful and wonderful!!)

Review: Whitelines

Whitelines is a Swedish notebook manufacturer that takes a unique approach to their paper. All of their paper is grey with white markings (lined, grid, dot grid, isometric etc). Their approach is “Dark lines distract, Whitelines don’t.” I love the concept. They also advertise that the lines will disappear when you copy/scan the paper. Whitelines offers a wide array of bindings, cover fabrics, paper formatting.

Whitelines

This notebook is gorgeous.  The cover has this great buckram linen, with the Whitelines logo embossed on the cover. Their color palette includes this vibrant signature orange. The construction of the notebook is well-designed. Personally, I favor a notebook with a joint, the small groove that runs along the spine. It feels sturdier to me.

Whitelines

The paper is 80gsm, but it feels similar to Moleskine weight (~71gsm). In my ink test, there was some show through of my pen-of-choice, pigment ink pens, but not much.

Some of their notebooks have built in digitization formatting to be used with their smart phone app. However, this notebook does not have that feature, which is ideal for me. Some of their notebooks have alternating page layouts, for example one page has dot grid, and the other ruled. There is a lot of variety in their notebook offerings!

Whitelines

In the above photo, you can easily see the unique coloring of the gray paper/white lines, contrasted against Moleskine paper.
Whitelines

Whitelines notebook on top of an A5 Moleskine for reference.

Specifications:

  • 160 pages
  • 80gsm paper
  • 6mm line spacing

Where to Buy

Review: Miro Notebooks

The Miro Notebooks, made by Franklin Mill, are a nice contribution to the black cover notebook market, with a great price point ($13.99).

Miro
The cover is vinyl and feels very similar to moleskine, with more grip. Mine already has a few gouges and a small tear, but I don’t mind.

Miro

The paper is advertised as Mohawk Paper. It feels and writes very well. The paper is the best part of the notebook, which is ideal. If you look closely at the above picture, the line layout is unique: the line has a slight break about an inch into the paper, along the spine (so it alternates). This would be useful for checklists, and is not intrusive and easy to ignore.

Miro

There is a small pocket in the back, but it is not gusseted like a Moleskine notebook. It is large enough to fit a few small pieces of paper.

Miro

Moleskine A5 notebook on top for reference, Miro notebook on bottom. I really love gilt-edged notebooks, which started with the Nuuna notebook, and I’m out to collect them all. The Miro Notebooks are a nice offering in this niche-aesthetic. There are 6 colors available, in both a black and white cover. The one I’m reviewing is A5 (6 x 8), but they also have pocket and large sizes available.

Miro

One complaint is that the text block is not set evenly in the cover. In the above picture, you’ll notice the overhang is noticeable on the side, and flush on the top. Even more of a concern is that on the top it’s slightly more flush by the side than by the spine. I don’t mind an overhang, but being variation from side to side, and unevenness on the top makes the notebook look sloppy.

Specifications:

  • A5 (6″ x 8″)
  • $13.99
  • 160 pages
  • lined, 6mm line spacing
  • gilt-edged

Where to buy:

 

Review: Front Notebook

Front is a Chinese office supply manufacturer. It appears they do not have a Western distributor, which is too bad because their notebooks look awesome. Navigating their website is easier using Google Chrome, which automatically translates — unless you read Chinese, of course. It appears their webshop (hosted on Taoboa, a Chinese version of ebay) does not ship overseas. I found this notebook through ebay, and there are a few more copies left.
DSCN0229

The cover is a faux-leather material, feels kind of waxy and vinyl-like. Similar to a softcover Moleskine. There’s no elastic band closure, but the cover stays shut without it.

DSCN0233

The paper has a smooth touch, somewhat smoother than Moleskine paper. They don’t advertise the paper weight, so I’m unsure. I use a Micron Pen 01 and there was no show through. This notebook has colored/gilt-edging that matches the cover, which I particularly fancy.

DSCN0235
On the top of the page, they have some organizational formatting, including date entry space and circular checkbox next to the day of the week. I won’t be using it, but it doesn’t bother me,  it’s easy to ignore, and doesn’t take up too much space. The last 18 pages are perforated at the side, and in half. The perforation lines are easy to see in the picture.

DSCN0236 DSCN0237

A5 Moleskine on the bottom for size reference.

Specifications

  • Model: D66-A501
  • $14.99
  • Lined, 8mm
  • 308 pages
  • Last 18 pages are perforated (on the edge and in half)

 

Review: Metaphys 44112

Metaphys notebooks are created by a Japanese design company, with stationery being just one of their product lines (others include dishes, bags, lighting).

Metaphys44112
Logos on the front cover is a gamble, but I like the minimal typography, so it sits well with me. And I’d even say I like the model number too. But the description? Who needs a description of a notebook on the cover of a notebook?

The cover is canvas and a very stiff softcover — almost but not quite hardback. It seems very durable.

What I like about Metaphys notebooks are their unique sizes. The 44112 is the largest, measuring at 8.25 x 3.6 inches. So, tall and slim. Kind of reminds me of a large checkbook. In fact, while I was typing with the notebook next to me in my periphery, had the blip thought: “what is my checkbook doing here?”

Metaphys44112

The paper is very nice to write on and smooth to the touch. It takes ink quite well, and dries quickly (I use pigment ink pens).The grid layout is spaced at 5mm, is very faint, and only printed on one side. The paper isn’t perforated, but does tear off the waxy spine easily. Maybe too easily.
Metaphys44112

[A5 Moleskine on bottom for reference]

My only complaint: there’s no elastic band closure, so the notebook stays slightly popped up after use.

Specifications:

  • Grid layout on right-hand page (the back is blank)
  • Grid spacing: 5mm
  • 140 pages
  • £15.50

Where to buy:

Historical Notebook found in used bookstore

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If you frequent used bookstores, keep your eyes peeled for old notebooks. This story comes from Hobart, Australia: an antique notebook belonging to a British Army Officer dated from 1810-1812 was found in a used bookshop, The Cracked and Spineless. When the bookshop switched owners, this notebook wedged into a neglected corner switched owners with it. Keep reading at the link!